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TBI: AMBER Alert is not a romance, it's a kidnapping; still no sightings

(TBI)

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is stressing that the AMBER Alert involving Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins is not a romance -- it's a kidnapping.

TBI officials held a news conference Tuesday, two weeks after Thomas and Cummins went missing. There have been about 1,100 tips but no credible sightings. Law enforcement across the country continue to follow up on leads. but so far, none have been founded.

TBI officials are cautioning the public on "victim blaming" in this case and say that it was a well thought out kidnapping.

Officials are asking the public to stay vigilant, and if you see something, say something.

Thomas, 15, is believed to be with her former teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins. Cummins is wanted for aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. He is now on the TBI's Top 10 Most Wanted List.

With so much time passed, investigators say the two could really be anywhere. TBI notified authorities in Mexico about the AMBER Alert too.

“We had heard some time ago that Tad Cummins had bragged about having a way out, literally having a place in Honduras,” said Thomas family attorney Jason Whatley. “We also have evidence Elizabeth herself believed she had a way out of the country.”

While their location is uncertain, Whatley and TBI investigators agreed Elizabeth is a victim of kidnapping. There is nothing romantic about their relationship, as previously reported.

“We have knowledge of grooming, we have knowledge of what lay people would even call brainwashing, and we also have knowledge of a child who was conflicted, a child who was even scared of this man,” Whatley said.

A nationwide BOLO has been issued. The FBI and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children are involved in the case.

Anyone who sees Cummins or Thomas should call 911 immediately. Anyone with information on their whereabouts should call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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